A while ago, I messaged a few of my favourite accounts and asked them if they would mind telling me 3 things/words of advice they wish they knew at the start of their recovery.
The responses were amazing.
The following are the replies from 2 of these awesome ladies who I admire so much and who inspired me so much during my own journey. I’ve put the parts that I think are really essential to take on board in bold.
1. That amidst all the fear and worry and anxiety and stress of committing to recovery, look for the glimmers of relief. They will be there, deep down. When you truly commit 100% to recovery and know you are not going back, if you look hard enough you will find brief moments of relief at being able to eat now. Relief at not having to go for a run in the rain. Relief at not having to lie or keep secrets. Relief at being able to rest and not endlessly find ways to move. Relief at not having to endlessly count. Hold onto those moments. They are a glimpse at a much, much brighter future.
2. Judging and comparing your hunger will always, without exception, make you feel shit.
3. Aiming to ‘re-find’ the person you were before your eating disorder is impossible. Aim to grow into a new, stronger version of yourself
- Quasi-recovery isn’t worth it. I had only partially committed to recovery at first, which was honestly just a big waste of my time. I wish I could go back and tell myself that I was going to have to take the leap at some point– and if not now, then when? I’d gained weight, I was eating enough to prevent people from worrying about me, and my family was no longer on my back about what I ate 24/7. however, regardless of the progress, I appeared to be making from an outsiders point of view, I still felt stuck.
My family would congratulate me on eating a donut, but didn’t know that I dwelled over the online nutritional information beforehand seeking the lowest calorie option on the menu. My doctors were happy that I was gaining weight, but they didn’t see the countless hours I lay awake at night calculating and recalculating the calories I had eaten that day in fear that I had eaten ‘too much’ or would gain weight ‘too fast’.
It killed me to hear my dad talking about how proud he was of my when I knew in my heart that I’d only been half-assing it the whole time. I felt like a fraud. I wanted so badly to make him proud, but not like this. I wish I had known earlier that in order to truly recover, there is no such thing as simply dipping your toes in to test the water. you gotta dive in head first.
2. I wish that I was prepared for the influx of feelings and emotions that come along with feeding yourself properly. Restricting provided me with numbness that allowed me to avoid all of the feelings I was too scared to face. It allowed me to run away from my problems without actually going anywhere. However, along with all of the negative emotions went all of the others as well. Sure, I had successfully numbed that intense sadness, the one you feel deep in your gut, but I had also numbed feelings of joy, hope, and love. I lived in a constant desensitized state. Obviously still had feelings, but not in the way I once did. I have always been one who feels very deeply, which has both its pros and cons. However, the emotions I felt deep in my eating disorder were not true, raw feelings, but rather forced and surface level. I lost my ability to empathize with others and became selfish and self-absorbed.
3. It doesn’t always have to be hard. Just because recovery is difficult doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to enjoy it sometimes. While yes, it will sometimes be scary and frustrating and challenging, it will also sometimes be fun. Don’t let yourself feel ashamed for enjoying the process, because that’s what recovery is about. It’s about rediscovering joy and learning to love life again. Enjoying food is not a shameful thing or a personal failure. Rather, it’s an important part of life that recovery allows you to discover. Do not feel guilty for enjoying late-night ice cream runs or the feeling of freedom that comes with allowing yourself anything you feel like- whether that be chocolate cake for breakfast or a bagel for a mid-morning snack. Similarly, you are allowed to feel confident in your changing body. While bad body image days are inevitable, good body image days happen too. On these days, embrace it!! Contrary to what your eating disorder may have told you, you are allowed to feel good about yourself, just as you are.
A HUGE HUGE thank you to both for taking the time to write these.
Here are the combined key points:
- Look for the glimmers of relief. They will be there.
- Hold onto those moments of relief.
- There is a brighter future.
- Judging and comparing is shit. Period.
- You will grow into a new, stronger version.
- Quasi-recovery isn’t worth it.
- have to take the leap at some point
- You can fool others and make it appear as though you are recovering to an outsider, but you can’t fool yourself. You will still feel stuck.
- There is no such thing as simply dipping your toes in. You gotta dive in head first.
- Restricting provides numbness. It might numb bad emotions, but also good ones.
- It doesn’t always have to be hard.
- You are allowed to enjoy it.
- It’s about rediscovering joy and learning to love life again.
- Fuelling yourself allows genuine emotions. Deprivation and restriction means emotions are likely to be forced and superficial.
- Enjoying food is not a shameful thing or a personal failure.
- Do not feel guilty for living.
- You are allowed to feel confident in your changing body on any occasions that happens.
- You are allowed to feel good about yourself.
I really hope that helps. I know I would have found it super useful if I was just starting out.
I messaged a few others too… but lost their replies. If I manage to find them, I’ll share them too.